by Tory McCagg
Subtitled: A \”What If It Works?\” Adventure in Off-Grid Living and Quest for Home. The author and her husband lived in Rhode Island and bought some land in New Hampshire where they built a solar-powered house for vacation use, where they end up living full-time. I was interested to read this book because keeping chickens is something I aspire to – and I admire off-the-grid living but don\’t know if I\’ll ever do so (it sounds like a lot of work). The chickens don\’t show up in this book until about page 50. A lot of it is actually backstory- where the couple came from, how they met, how she grew up and that formed her world. Struggles they had, not only with building and maintaining the house on a windy hillside up a long winding rough road but also in their relationship, in their feeling of responsibility towards the Earth, and in a very personal way, the author watching her parents grow older and face death. The story of her father\’s passing very sad. Reading about her mother\’s progressing difficulties living with Parkinson\’s disease also very sad. Even keeping the chickens- which began as an effort to only eat \”happy eggs\” from chickens that had been raised well and treated humanely- had its sad moments. In spite of trying to only buy or adopt chicks that were female, they ended up with more than one rooster. (They let a hen hatch her own eggs too). Sometimes they were able to find another farm that needed a rooster for their flock, but they also once went through the process of slaughtering their extra roosters for food- emotionally difficult after knowing those chickens so well, their personalities and little struggles and triumphs over the years. Of course they also lost some chickens to natural causes- taken by hawks and other predators, and quite a few died of cancer (a vet did autopsies for them). But there are glad moments too, and wonderful ones, and bright humor. For example, their first rooster considered everything outside his domain, and would attack the husband whenever he went out to work on the building project. He figured out how to deflect these attacks, and it was hilarious!
It feels a bit scattered at times- the book\’s focus is their whole life, their view on things, what that came from, how it grows and changes just as much as anything. Ongoing concern for the environment, personal efforts to live better, have a lighter footprint on the earth, and struggles to reconcile other things they can\’t, or won\’t, change about their lives. No, it\’s not just chickens. They are a central part though, once you get through the beginning.
I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating 3/5 191 pages, 2020